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Circus Summer (Circus of Curiosities Book 1)

Circus Summer - Kailin Gow "They'd seen their own children fighting and occasionally dying."In what was once known as America, a war has raged for too many years to count. Drafters can claim anyone male or female at age 18 to fight for them- most never return. Raiders come from out of nowhere and take food, women or whatever else may strike their fancy. And then the monsters escaped the labs in which the Invaders had been experimenting on them...I KNOW right?There's not enough food, there's not enough doctors, there's no medicine and very little hope for a better tomorrow.What there IS... is a traveling circus. A circus of horrors and brutality. But also of HOPE because if you survive the tribulations you face- you are rewarded handsomely.The Circus of Curiosities, offers money and food to those brave enough to volunteer to compete and finally fame and fortune if they SURVIVE to make it to the National Level.We meet Prima, fighting to move up the proverbial ladder and to national level of performance in this vicious circus... As she's pitted against a Hydra. Yes... HYDRA.She loses... She's dead.And off they go to the next town. Sea Cliff to be exact, and according to Leela there's a whole lot of NOTHING happening on a day to day basis. Her older brother was drafted into the war, her youngest brother needs looked after and her mother is very sick...When the Circus rolls in and sign up's are posted, Leela barely hesitates to pick up the pen... Rationalizing that it's the best way to help her family. While her long time crush, Zachary, has signed up too- because he has a "mission" to complete.Thomas, her older brother's best friend is COMPLETELY against her taking part in the Circus... But since he's also so obviously and completely, utterly, head over heels in love with her (it's sooooo sweet!!!) he's there to support her... And even,"I'd do anything you needed, Leela. Even taking your place here, if you ask. Let me do this, and you can stay with your family."Dex, ring master of the Circus of Curiosities, is somewhat of an enigma to me. There's SOO much more to him than meets the eye.First the kids chosen for the circus must go through training, and some of them don't even make it through that. But each has their own reason for staying, even if Dex gives them the opportunity to leave everyday.Did I mention the zombies??? ;) okay, well they may not TECHNICALLY be zombies... More like mutated humans that the Invaders experimented on and now they are rabid and attack other humans... (sounds like zombies to me!)I'm so torn between Zachary and Thomas!!! Thomas is SUPER sweet and obviously loves Leela. I mean, he's willing to DIE for her! But it's obvious she doesn't really feel the same toward him. She's never thought of him as anything more than a really great friend- then when he kisses her it's just ALL confusing for her!But when Zachary kisses her... *sigh*"We kiss, and we keep kissing, his lips move hungrily against mine. Zachary, is an expert kisser, drawing it out, his lips soft and hard against mine, making me want more from him, kissing me until I can barely think."I'm embarrassed to say that it took me nearly the entire book to put two and two together about the Invaders. Maybe I was just denying the inevitable because of how I feel about *THOSE THINGS.* But Kailin Gow did an amazing job of not making a huge deal out of *THEM*... Which is just super fabulous! Because ANY other book I've ever read that threw creatures like Invaders into the mix, left me completely "meh".And yes I'm being entirely vague on purpose so as not to scare anyone off! Because if someone would've referred to the Invaders as what they ARE, I wouldn't have read this book, and THAT would be a HUGE MISTAKE on your part!Seriously, I need book 2 IMMEDIATELY! The perfect blend of dystopian, paranormal and the teensiest bit of Sci-Fi mixed in!Circus Summer is FANTASTIC... romantic, edgy and exciting!!!